Overfishing in Hawaii and a growing rivalry over fishing territories may have led to felony charges after four fishermen were indicted for allegedly robbing and harassing people aboard a boat from a neighboring island.
The alleged attack occurred near the Hawaiian island of Molokai on May 25. Albert Dudoit, Jr., Robin Dudoit, Floyd Kapuna, and Kaiula English boarded a vessel and confronted the recreational divers visiting from Oahu, according to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources,
The four suspects from Molokai were arrested by the Maui Police Department and the division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement on Nov. 25. They all face felony charges, including two counts of robbery in the second degree, unauthorized first degree entry into a motor vessel, terroristic threatening in the first degree and harassment.
William Alia, DLNR chair and director, told local news station KHON2 that, "An altercation took place, some fishing equipment was damaged, a person was either shoved or fell overboard," but no other details about the confrontation have been released.
(The Maui County prosecuting attorneys assigned to the case told The Huffington Post that they are unable to comment because the case is still open.)
According to KHON2, the altercation "stems from a long-running dispute" among fishermen in the Hawaiian islands. Fish populations near islands like Oahu and Maui have dropped as much as 90 percent, leading to bitter competition elsewhere.
"The only reason why they're here is because they depleted their own resources," overdevelopment activist and Molokai resident Walter Ritte told Hawaii News Now. "It's not fair for us on Molokai taking the brunt of everyone on Oahu coming here and taking our resources."
Sean Ellis, a relative of the charged men, defended the aggressive actions: "The fact of the matter is they gotta think about the people who want to survive here on this island," he told KHON2. "If you start taking away our resources, what we get for survive on, we just going eat sand crabs [sic].”
The state's DLNR, however, asserted that the Molokai men's actions were not a solution to the bigger conflict.
"We will not tolerate community involvement in unlawful criminal behavior," DLNR chairperson William J. Aila said.